Thursday, July 05, 2012

Worth Doin'

I deal in trees all day, of course.

Well, the artists formerly known as trees, anyway. I try not to wax mystical about them overmuch. They are useful, sometimes beautiful, and I like using them to enrich other people's lives, and hence, my own.

But not all cows go to the butcher, and some trees are worth more than the sum of their firewood and end table parts parts. Some trees matter more than others. They've stood sentry over people's comings and goings long enough to earn a kind of affection. Some trees are worth saving from the saw. Some trees have a story to tell.

In League City, Texas, one big Compton oak was considered a part of the town, not just part of the landscape. Saving it was "worth doin'." It passed the ultimate worth doin' test, the one that's mostly overlooked these days: Would you reach into your own pocket to pay for it? Would you take your own hands out of your pockets and work at it yourself? League City said: Yes.

Certainly, moving a tree of such size involves more than a bucket and a shovel. There are dimensions to be taken, soils to be tested, trenches to be dug and on-site boxes to be built. By the time all was said and done, the great Ghirardi oak had been transformed into a Texas-sized bonsai, the center of the town’s attention as it waited for its big day.

Linda at The Task at Hand tells the story of League City's Oak move better than I could. Go there, and luxuriate under the shade of the Ghirardi's Compton Oak.


shoreacres said...

I smiled when I saw the quotation you included in your Father's Day post. Voltaire got it right: How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child's board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted.

Or transplanted, for all that. Thanks for expanding the reach of the oak's story!

Bilejones said...

Two hundred large seems a bit steep, don't ya think?

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Shoreacres- It's a good story, well told.

Hi Bilejones- I'm not sure if you're referring to whether the outlay is too much to spend on the project, or whether you think the contractor charged too much to do it.

I used to have profit and loss responsibility for fairly large construction projects that included lots of sitework. 200 Gs is a lot of money, but there was a lot of work to do there. Whether it was worth it to the local people is another question. I assume it was because they paid it.

I was once asked by a town committee during a permitting meeting what it would cost to install fully grown trees during landscaping instead of the usual saplings. I pointed out that the trees might rival the development cost of the entire service station or the attached convenience store, and might die anyway. They added some rhododendrons to the landscaping and forgot it. Big trees cost big money.

Deborah said...

I used to live in League City, which sprawls across the soggy, flat coastal prairie. No wonder men went to so much trouble to plant trees (surely, it is a sign of civilization), and this tree is a great gnarly old man. For once, the ever-squabbling LC city council did the right thing.

shoreacres said...

The $197,500 was the low bid. To re-route the road and leave the tree in place was around $700,000.

As I understand it, the cost of the project covered everything from the initial soil testing and so on to the installation of the irrigation systems and monitoring post-planting. And the work itself - box building, and all that - took a lot of time. No one complained about the work - the city installed a webcam so everyone could sit at their computer and keep an eye on things.

(Hi, Deborah!)

SippicanCottage said...

How is it that I can possibly have two people from League City, Texas in the comments of my blog, written from Treestump, Maine?

It is a wonderment.

Sam L. said...

"Why", you ask, Mr. Sipp? You and your writing have attracted an eclectic (not me, of course) group of readers and commenters from singular and amazing and surprising places.

You write good about various and sundry and odd stuff.